There’s no point beating around the bush on this.
Islam, in general in Australia, has a terrible history of financial mismanagement, impropriety and fraud. We know much of this money goes overseas. This week’s revelation that scammed taxpayers are now probably the largest funders of the Islamic State, courtesy of a $27 million child care fraud, is proof of that.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Malek Fahd Islamic School continues to operate with taxpayer funds, even though it has been found to have misused these funds to the tune of millions of dollars. Instead of using educational grants to fund a school, these grants were used to fund the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and its promotion of Islam in Australia.
The new Malek Fahd board has even argued in court that the old Malek Fahd board failed their duties on a ‘criminal scale‘. Yet state and federal governments and their policing agencies have sat on their hands. No action has been taken to recover these funds. I don’t think they would be so lenient if you were to do exactly the same thing as the peak Islamic body in Australia.
And earlier this month the Malek Fahd Islamic School was boasting about how it raised funds to send overseas to Syria, via Human Appeal International Australia.
Human Appeal International has partnered with proscribed terrorist organisations that support the militant group, Hamas. Various officers of Human Appeal International in Europe have links to al Qaeda. The Australian arm of Human Appeal International has funded hospitals in Gaza. They just happen to be run by Hamas and to be used for its headquarters. The Australian government lists Hamas’ military wing as a terrorist organisation.
Meanwhile, the Australian government’s own agency dedicated to fighting terrorism funding, Austrac, states that:
The large volume of humanitarian aid and financial assistance sent from Australia to family and community members in Syria provides opportunities for commingling or disguising funds for terrorism financing among the legitimate transactions. Conflict in Syria creates a dynamic environment for terrorism financing, which may lead to the use of new methods of fundraising and transferring funds.
I’m sure there’s nothing to see here. We will all be absolutely shocked and surprised if it ever was found that government educational grants ended up in the hands of the Islamic State’s warfighting academy. We won’t be so shocked at all to hear that Human Appeal International Australia has assisted with the fundraising for the Bendigo mosque.
And there’s more. So much more. There is an urgent need for detailed investigation of Islamic finance in Australia. At the very least, it will save taxpayers a fortune. More likely, it will hit groups like Islamic State where it really hurts: in the hip pocket.
Shown below are additional examples of this culture of impropriety. Or is it contempt, I wonder?
Anyway, I wrote about them last year and included them in my submission the Senate inquiry into halal certification:
- In September 1982, the Royal Commission into the Australian Meat Industry specifically examined AFIC’s credibility as a halal certification authority, stating:
“AFIC’s past record of performance in this area is poor. That is demonstrated by the high level of malpractice that has occurred. As an organisation, AFIC has not shown any ability to administer the system of halal certification effectively.”
- In September 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that SICHMA was involved in a legal case regarding allegedly unapproved loans to charities:
“Mr Khan’s influence on the Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia ended when former loyal supporters swore in court that he had diverted more than $1 million without approval into loans for his own favoured charities, in particular his college, which he runs with his wife, Ghazwa, who is also the principal.”
- In July 2006, SBS reported that the peak Islamic organisation in Australia, AFIC had its assets frozen:
“AFIC’s bank has frozen its funds until the present board can produce evidence it is the properly-elected body.”
- In March 2010, the West Australian reported that two administrators of the Islamic College of Australia were found guilty of fraud:
“Two Islamic college leaders were this afternoon found guilty of fraudulently claiming millions of dollars from the State and Federal governments to help get the school out of financial trouble.”
- In July 2012, The Australian reported that Australia’s largest Islamic school had been ordered to pay back over $9 million in public funding:
“AUSTRALIA’S biggest Islamic school has been ordered to pay back $9 million in public funds to the NSW government after it found millions in taxpayers’ money had been diverted to the country’s peak Muslim body.”
- In December 2012, The Australian reported that senior members on the AFIC board had been suspended while an auditor investigated the alleged loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars:
“Ikebal Patel, the former president and current vice-president of AFIC and the assistant treasurer Ashraf Ali were suspended after an executive committee meeting on December 9, and an external auditor brought in to examine the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars of the organisation’s funds.”
- In October 2013, The Australian reported that an Islamic school in Sydney’s south west was under investigation following complaints that millions had allegedly gone missing:
“Sam Cannavo resigned as principal late last month over the management of the 230-student school, making a formal complaint to police alleging that up to $2.1 million had gone missing from the school. Mr Cannavo has given police allegedly falsified building receipts with millions drawn on an account managed by a senior school official.
Mr Cannavo also alleges landfill on the school site contains asbestos and the school’s sewage system had frequently overflowed, at times entering the school’s drinking fountains.
A builder hired by the school has also made a police complaint, alleging he was paid only half of the almost $5m the school had charged for projects at the school, alleging the school had charged millions in fake invoices.”
- In October 2013, the ABC reported that Australia’s largest Islamic school faced imminent closure after allegedly failing to meet regulatory requirements:
“Australia’s largest Muslim school, Malek Fahd Islamic School, is facing imminent closure after New South Wales Board of Studies inspectors recommended its registration not be renewed in 2014.”
- In January 2014, Fairfax media reported that a number of Islamic charities, community organisations and individuals had been warned to stop sending funds to Syria through the channels they had been using:
“Australia’s intelligence agencies have been monitoring phone calls, freezing bank accounts and making covert home visits to warn people donating money to Syrian war victims that they suspect the funds might instead be financing terrorism.”
- In September 2014, The Australian reported that a money transfer company was suspended after allegedly funding Islamic State terrorists:
“Authorities are also concerned the company, Bisotel Rieh Global Money Transfer, may have transferred funds to Mohamed Elomar, Khaled Sharrouf’s companion in Syria and a fellow fighter with the terrrorist organisation.
Financial intelligence and compliance agency AUSTRAC announced it had suspended Bisotel Rieh, which trades in the western Sydney suburb of Lakemba, after it failed to declare the $9m in funds transferred out of Australia.
The company is being investigated over suspicious transfers of funds to individuals in Malaysia, amid admissions from staff that it “actively smuggles” money from Turkey into Lebanon.”
- In September 2014, the ABC reported that a charity raising funds for Syrians had its bank account frozen:
“A well-known charity group raising money for humanitarian aid in Syria has been caught up in the crackdown on money leaving Australia for the Middle East.
Bank accounts for the Australians For Syria Association were shut down a month ago by the Commonwealth Bank, without explanation.”
- In March 2015, the Courier Mail reported that the Islamic College of Brisbane was under investigation for alleged financial irregularities:
“The finances of Queensland’s largest Islamic school are under the microscope amid allegations of thousands of dollars of “phantom debt’’ and secret payments to the former chairman of the board.”
- In April 2015, The Australian reported that the al-Furqan Islamic Centre, which a number of terrorism suspects have been linked to, was under investigation for alleged tax, social security and financial fraud:
“Several security agencies are monitoring the Springvale South prayer room with the aim of shutting it down.
They are known to be investigating tax, immigration, finance or social security fraud in an effort to halt the radicalisation process thought to be taking place.”
- In May 2015, The Advertiser reported on allegations of serious financial mismanagement at the Islamic College of South Australia:
“The analysis, prepared by the former principal of an affiliated Islamic school in Brisbane, Dr Mubarak Noor, raises questions over millions of dollars “missing” from financial statements, and a loan to parent body the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, and skyrocketing rents paid to AFIC.
According to Dr Noor, federal and state funding was understated by $3.5 million across the 2012 and 2013 records, while a loan from the school to AFIC was raised “without justification” from under $200,000 to almost $2 million between 2011 and 2013, and rent to AFIC rose from $84,000 in 2011 to $628,000 in 2012.
Former principals confirmed they were denied all access to financial records in their time at the school.”
- In June 2015, the ABC reported that the Islamic Council of the ACT and Muslims NSW were allegedly not meeting regulatory requirements and may face loss of registration:
“The ACT Government has said it would consider cancelling the registration of the Islamic Council of the ACT after an ABC investigation found the group may have failed to hold annual meetings for up to four years.
Both it and its NSW counterpart, Muslims NSW, have been accused of not holding annual meetings for as long as eight years and the claims are supported by paperwork lodged with regulators in those states.”
- In June 2015, The Australian reported that schools run by AFIC appeared to be operating on a for profit basis in contravention of government funding regulations:
“Muslim schools across the country appear to be operating for profit under a “creative accounting” process forced on principals by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, the Independent Education Union says.”
- In July 2015, the ABC reported that members of an Islamic charity based in Australia were arrested in Lebanon for allegedly raising funds for the Islamic State:
“Barakat appeared before a military court in Lebanon on Friday. He faces charges of fundraising for jihadists, recruiting for IS and fighting against the Lebanese army.
The ABC understands two other dual Australian-Lebanese members of the Sydney-based charity are under investigation in relation to the fundraising charges.”